Today Marks a Troubling Day for the Planet

Earth Overshoot Day is here, a day earlier than last year
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2022 9:13 AM CDT
Today Marks a Troubling Day for the Planet
Cattle graze on land recently burned and deforested by cattle farmers near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil. or cattle-raising in the future.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

(Newser) – Environmental groups say today is "Earth Overshoot Day"—the day when all the resources the planet can regenerate in a year have been used up—and the rest of the year's consumption will be what amounts to deficit spending. The date went back to August 22 due to COVID shutdowns in 2020 but a familiar pattern has now reappeared, with Overshoot Day coming a day earlier than last year. The date, based on factors including consumption patterns and population size, arrived earlier for many individual countries, Deutsche Welle reports.

The date was February 10 for Qatar, March 13 for the US, and May 4 for Germany, while Overshoot Day won't arrive until December for countries including Ecuador and Jamaica, according to the Global Footprint Network. "The Earth has a lot of stock, so we can deplete Earth for some time but we cannot overuse it for ever," says the group's president Mathis Wackernagel, per AFP. "It's like with money; we can spend more than we earn for some time until we're broke." He says the world would need an extra three-quarters of an Earth to continue consuming resources at the current rate.

The Global Footprint Network and the World Wildlife Fund say more than half the planet's biocapacity is used to feed people. "Agriculture contributes to deforestation, climate change by emitting greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, while using a significant share of fresh water," the NGOs said. They say Overshoot Day can be pushed back if rich countries reduce meat consumption—and if the world stops wasting around a third of the food that it produces. (The creator of the Gaia theory died this week on his 103rd birthday.)

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